The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed multiple weaknesses in the global fight against corruption. This situation emphasized the need to build the capacity of Member States to bring their national frameworks in line with the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), and tackle the emerging issues in a multi-stakeholder approach involving all levels of society.
From 24 to 25 November, the first ever Multi-Stakeholder Workshop on the United Nations Convention against Corruption and Its Review Mechanism for Central Asia took place in a hybrid format with nearly a half of the participants joining physically in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. It welcomed over 100 representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs), the private sector and public institutions from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
The two-day workshop sought to enhance participants’ knowledge of the Convention and its Review Mechanism, including entry points for CSOs. It also provided a platform for constructive discussions and sharing of experiences and best practices on how the governments can engage non-state actors in the fight against corruption.
In her opening remarks, Ashita Mittal, UNODC Regional Representative in Central Asia, stressed the importance of having the necessary legal systems in place that can, with the help of civil society, support those who are in need the most: “There can be no sustainable development without the rule of law and there can be no rule of law without human rights”.
Alkis Vryenios Drakinos, Head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Office in Uzbekistan further highlighted the important role of non-state actors: “We believe that civil society and businesses alike can support governments’ efforts to curb corruption and ensure a level playing field”.
This multi-stakeholder workshop came at an opportune moment for Uzbekistan, which, through its newly established Anti-Corruption Agency, is working to systematize anti-corruption policies, identifying strategic priorities and defining expected impacts on tackling corruption in the country. Umida Tukhtasheva, Deputy Director of the Anti-Corruption Agency in Uzbekistan underscored that “one of the methods to fight corruption is public monitoring, and the active participation of civil society is crucial”.
This event marked the start of a new UNODC-EBRD partnership in the region. The project entitled “Enhancing the capacity of civil society on good governance in Central Asia” will support Uzbekistan and other countries in the region in their anti-corruption programming, inclusive of civil society and private sector participation.